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Board of Directors
A social worker by profession, Dick worked for 33 years in municipal government in Ottawa in front line and senior management roles. He was the Commissioner of Social Services with the region of Ottawa-Carleton and the general manager of the People Services Department for the City of Ottawa. Since retiring, Dick has devoted his energy in support of community issues and the non-profit community service sector. Dick is the past chair of the Partnership Council of the Ottawa Local Immigration Partnership (OLIP).
William Lau is presently employed with Canada Council for the Arts. A strong advocate for equity and human rights, he has demonstrated commitment and leadership in community building and empowerment through both his professional and volunteer experiences. With a deep passion for the arts, William is creative, diligent, and pragmatic in achieving goals and results. It is with both enthusiasm and humbleness that William has become a member of the Board of Directors.
Valerie Adams is a Senior Manager of Personal Banking for Scotiabank in downtown Ottawa. She has been with Scotiabank since 2002 and works with business owners and individuals, offering advice and solutions to meet their financial needs. Her previous roles have included Account Manager, Small Business and Manager Personal Banking. Her current team is dedicated to working with the community.
Nimao immigrated to Canada in her teens to start a better life after witnessing the Somali civil war. After completing her Bachelor Degree of Computer Mathematics at Carleton University and later a Teaching Certificate, Nimao has been working as an educator for both adults and children for the past 15 years in Ottawa.
In her spare time, Nimao is the co-founder of the Somali Women’s Circle Network, is a member of the Justice For Abdirahman Coalition, and runs weekly mentoring programs for girls in Ottawa. As a mother of three, Nimao believes education is the key to transforming individuals and communities. She is an inspirational speaker and activist whose greatest joy is teaching and mentoring youth.
Victoria has over 10 years of nursing experience with a focus in community health. After graduating from Queen's University, she worked in rural Ontario as a communicable disease nurse. She then moved to Vancouver to pursue a Masters degree in Nursing with a focus on intimate partner violence. To complement her graduate degree, Victoria worked for BC's Sexual Assault Service. While studying, she also worked in the Downtown Eastside at a drop-in center and for NAOMI (the North American Opiod Maintenance Initiative). After the completion of her graduate degree, Victoria worked on the Children and Youth team in public health.
Since her return to Ottawa in 2008, Victoria has been employed by Ottawa Public Health.
Hanaa Dwidar holds a master of gynaecology and obstetrics from Alexandria University, Egypt. She specialized in the area of preventive medicine with a focus on child and maternal health. She worked in different health promotion programs in Egypt. She was chosen to travel to Niger, West Africa, to work on developing programs to decrease maternal and child mortality in 1997. She succeeded with a dedicated team of health professional and community representatives to establish a school where children can receive quality education, scheduled nutritional meals and operate as a venue for health information workshops designed to empower families towards better health practices. The school initiative was widely successful, leading to two additional schools in the region which continue to operate today, returning outstanding benefits to the community. She is currently working with Pinecrest Queensway Community Health Centre in the Infant Hearing Program.
Israel Gimba is a graduate student currently studying for an advanced degree in civil law. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of York and has been delegated with various leadership awards, including the 2008 Youth Leaders Award. He is currently a director and a board member of Ra-ah international development. He is also a co-executive member of the Ten Step Project Management Company and has years of experience in executive decision making. He is a passionate enthusiast of youth empowerment, with future plans of pursuing a career in community and international development. He is currently involved in the leading of a growing youth movement here in Ottawa.
Jennifer Holtzman has been a scientific evaluator at Health Canada since 2009 where she works on the assessment of microbiological risks in food and the pre-market safety assessment of novel foods. She holds a Ph.D. in Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology from Yale University where, in addition to conducting research, she served as a board member of the Women in Science at Yale and as the co-founder and principal editor of a student newsletter about technology licensing initiatives. Before that, she graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Biopharmaceutical Science from the University of Ottawa. She has experience with project management, stakeholder relations, and meeting facilitation.
Jennifer grew up in Ottawa and has lived in the Wellington Street West neighbourhood since 2011.
Jennifer is a Registered Dietitian with a Master’s in Public Health (Global Health stream) from Simon Fraser University. She has worked in clinical, community, and public health settings across Canada and internationally before calling Ottawa home. Jennifer is currently a Program Officer with the Knowledge Mobilization and Liaison Officer team at the Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technology in Health (CADTH) and sits on the board of the AIDS Committee of Ottawa. She is passionate about food security, harm reduction and health equity.
As a public health nurse with Ottawa Public Health (OPH), Janice has over 30 years experience in acute care, public health and nursing education. She has worked in many capacities to build supportive environments and strengthen community action, including work as an OPH Social Determinants of Health Nurse. Janice also held the role of OPH liaison with the Ottawa English Second Language school boards to advance the use of the English Second Language Health Lesson Plans.
At present, Janice’s professional focus is on supporting healthy public policy to inspire and support active living.
Chad Meda has lived in Ottawa for over 25 years and works as a Rental Officer for Centretown Citizens Ottawa Corporation. He is passionate about community development and urban design and believes that affordable housing is a fundamental element of a healthy community. Previously, Chad has volunteered on the Board of Directors of Alex Laidlaw Housing Co-operative as the Communications Director and Treasurer.
He lives with his partner Lisa and their daughter Ariana a few blocks away from Somerset West Community Health Centre.
She has degrees in nursing and community health from Universite de Montreal. She is fluently trilingual (English, French, Vietnamese). After eight years working at the local community health service and community health department in Montreal, Mai joined the Public Health Agency of Canada in 1992. For the next 22 years, she occupied a variety of positions there, including senior research analyst and nurse epidemiologist. The portfolio includes epidemiology, infection control, needlestick injuries among health care workers, HIV, Hepatitis C, Hepatitis B, and pandemic influenza.
Clare holds a Master of Philosophy from Brock University, a Bachelor of Humanities from Carleton University and a Certificate of Philosophy from KU Leuven, Belgium. She is a Case Management Officer with the Social Security Tribunal of Canada, where she guides members of the public through the federal government’s social security appeal system. She has worked as a volunteer with the Parkdale Food Centre and Carleton University’s Paul Menton Centre for Students with Disabilities. Born in Ottawa, Clare has been a resident of the Somerset West CHC catchment area since 2013.
Carole Saab’s interest in being a board member stems, first and foremost, from her love of this vibrant community. She believes fundamentally that a healthy community means that it is diverse, accessible and engaged and she has spent her career working to build and advocate for public policy around this objective at a national level. As a mother, raising a young toddler in this community not only gives her added perspective on the critical role of SWCHC, but on a daily basis reminds her of her responsibility to contribute to the important work of community building.
Non-Voting Staff Representative
Hector is an educator, a health promoter and community developer who is passionate about reducing poverty among Canada’s immigrant population. He has developed many programs aimed at addressing the social determinants of health and empowering immigrants to be self-employed and entrepreneurs.
At Somerset West Community Health Centre, Hector played a prominent role in starting the Multicultural Health Navigation (MHN) program as well as Ottawa’s Language Access (OLA) program. Currenly, Hector is the program coordinator for the African Caribbean and Black Community Development and HIV Health Initiative and serves on the Centre’s Health Equity Committee.
Non-Voting Staff Representative
Ghufran has been working at Somerset West Community Health Centre's Ottawa Newcomer Health Centre for the past two years. There, she is a part-time Administrative Assistant and Smoking Cessation Counsellor. Ghufran is fluent in Arabic and uses her interpretation and interpersonal skills working with newcomers of all ages and backgrounds. With an educational background in both social sciences and psychology, she understands sensitive topics such as immigration marginalization and supports individuals who are experiencing difficult circumstances.
In her spare time, Ghufran likes to spend time with her 7 year old son and also runs a fruit catering business.